The Gospel and your four year old

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You hear a loud cry coming from the children’s room. You walk into the room and discover that Sarah, your four-year-old daughter, has just hit Brandon, your three-year-old son, because he wouldn’t give her the toy she wanted. You take Sarah into your room and administer the appropriate discipline. Sarah sadly tells you she knows that she should not have hit Brandon, but she just was so angry with him that she did it anyway. She tells you that she just can’t do it, she can’t obey and be good. What do you say as a parent?

Response # 1 —Mom replies with an even but stern voice,“Well, Sarah, that is what discipline is for. Eventually, you will learn that it is wrong to hit when you’re angry. If Mommy disciplines you enough times you will get the message. Please don’t hit Brandon any more. We don’t solve problems by hitting.”

Response # 2 —Mom replies with a tone of exasperation.“I know Sarah, you always say that. But, you just have to learn to be good. How many times must mommy spank you? You shouldn’t do something you know is wrong. Maybe someday you will change.”

Response # 3 —Mom replies in anger, “Sarah, if you wanted to be good and stop hitting Brandon, you would. Mommy is really losing patience with you. Your father and I are going to have a long talk when he gets home. This has got to stop. This is the fourth time this week.”

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